Fairsearch Europe has filed a complaint with the European regulators saying Google is using a “predatory pricing” system by offering its Android mobile OS for free.
The group has said that Google is employing anti-competitive tactics by offering Android to smartphone manufacturers for free and is “a deceptive way to build advantages”.
Google aims to “dominate the mobile marketplace and cement its control over consumer internet data for online advertising as usage shifts to mobile” claims Fairsearch Europe, whose members include rival Microsoft.
In Europe, Android handsets make up 70 per cent of those shipped to consumers, but the actual user base is a little smaller than that. In comparison, Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobile platform currently makes up around 5 per cent.
“Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deceive partners, monopolise the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data,” said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer acting on behalf of Fairsearch. “We are asking the commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market.”
“Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system.”
The complaint is based on the predatory pricing system that means a company has priced a product below its value to drive rivals out of the market. Google provides Android for free to smartphone manufacturers on the condition that it should include Google apps like the Google Play Store, YouTube and Gmail to achieve “registration” with the search engine giant. Of course, the inclusion of these apps is not obligatory, so around a quarter of all shipped Android devices aren’t actually registered with Google. This is mainly in China though, as the Google search engine has yet to gain approval from the strict Chinese government.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, like Windows Phone 8, is a paid for software that companies like Microsoft, HTC and Samsung must pay to use on their devices.
Fairsearch Europe is a group made up of 17 members, which include Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle.
Does the complaint feel like a desperate attempt for Microsoft and other OS makers to claw back some market share without improving their own software? Or is Google playing an unethical game with its Android OS pricing system? Give us your thoughts via the TrustedReviews Facebook and Twitter pages or the comments below.